A car emergency preparedness kit is one simple way of staying safe when you’re driving. By definition, emergencies are unplanned and unexpected. But if you have certain items ready in your car at all times, you are more likely to get through a variety of roadside emergencies safely.
Types of Roadside Emergencies
The most common roadside emergencies include flat tires, running out of gas, and vehicle breakdowns. Other common causes of an emergency are bad weather, traffic jams, poor road conditions, and personal emergencies suffered by you or one of your passengers.
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Items to Pack in an Emergency Preparedness Kit
Always consider your personal circumstances when putting together a car emergency kit. For example, if you need particular medications, consider carrying extra in your car. Other worthwhile items to pack are:
Cell phone. Always carry a working cell phone and charger, so you can call for help. Any working cell phone, even without active service, can reach 911.
Flat tire preparedness. Always carry a spare tire of the correct size for your vehicle, a lug-nut wrench that fits the nuts on the wheels of your car, and a working car jack.
Road flares. Carry at least three flares to place behind and in front of your vehicle during a breakdown, to alert other drivers to your presence. Always read the instructions on the flare before lighting it.
Flashlight. Keep a flashlight and batteries or a light stick in your car for visibility. Pack flashlight and batteries separately to prevent accidentally draining the batteries.
First aid kit. Items in a simple first-aid kit, such as Band-Aids, pain relievers, antihistamines, and digestive aids can make an unexpected road delay much more comfortable.
Food and water. Non-perishable snacks and a gallon of water may be essential if you get stuck in traffic or bad weather for hours.
Cold weather protection. Carry a blanket, an extra coat, a space blanket, and hand-warmer pouches, especially if you live in an area with freezing temperatures.
Tools. A folding shovel and a bag of kitty litter can help you move your car when your tires are stuck in soft dirt. A small, adjustable wrench lets you quickly fix a loose battery connection. Jumper cables make it possible to start a dead battery from another car. Snow chains are a required auto accessory on some winter roads.
A small amount of preparedness goes a long way in an emergency.
Other Ways to Keep Yourself Safe on the Road
You can also improve your safety and comfort on the road by buying a roadside emergency assistance policy to cover unexpected mishaps, as well as towing and other services. These policies are often quite economical and make the most sense for people with older vehicles.
Running out of gas is preventable. Remember to always watch your gas gauge, and as a rule, keep your tank at least one-third full at all times. Taking your vehicle in for regular servicing also reduces the chances of an emergency on the road.